On Friday, 1 November 2019, the United Nations University (UNU) organised a symposium at UNU Headquarters to mark the retirement of Dr Kazuhiko Takemoto as Director of the Tokyo-based UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), a post that he has held since January 2014.
UNU-IAS ― one of 14 UNU institutes located in 12 countries around the world ― undertakes policy-oriented research and capacity development focused on sustainability. Under Dr Takemoto’s nearly six-year tenure as UNU-IAS Director, the institute has carved out a space for UNU research on governance for the Sustainable Development Goals and for promoting the sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems. By providing a platform for education and knowledge generation, UNU-IAS informs policy at the national, regional, and local levels.
“The work of UNU-IAS on sustainable development, biodiversity, and climate change is becoming ever more important. Dr Takemoto’s leadership in sustainability research and his instrumental role in establishing important postgraduate degree programmes in cooperation with the University of Tokyo and with Sophia University will have a lasting effect on UNU”, said Dr David M. Malone, UNU Rector and UN Under-Secretary-General.
Prior to his appointment as Director of the then newly created UNU-IAS in 2014, Dr Takemoto had worked (since 2010) with UNU-IAS as a Senior Fellow and Programme Director, overseeing the institute’s work on Education for Sustainable Development, the International Satoyama Initiative, and the institute’s Operating Unit Ishikawa Kanazawa.
Before joining UNU, Dr Takemoto held a variety of environment-related positions in the Japanese Government and served as an international environmental diplomat. His roles in the Japan Ministry of the Environment (MOE) included Vice-Minister for Global Environment Affairs (2008–2010), Director-General (2005–2008) and Deputy Director-General (2003‒2005) of the Environmental Management Bureau, and Director of the Waste Management Division (2002–2003).
He previously worked in various posts with MOE’s predecessor, the Environment Agency, as well as with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria), the World Bank, and the Shizuoka Prefectural Government.
In attendance at Friday’s farewell symposium were UNU Rector and UN Under-Secretary-General Dr David M. Malone and Dr Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi, who succeeds Dr Takemoto as UNU-IAS Director as of 1 November. Leading experts on the SDGs highlighted the role of policy-oriented research for achieving the SDGs from a variety of perspectives and underlined the importance of co-designing research with policymakers.
After his retirement from UNU, Dr Takemoto will take up a position as Project Professor at the University of Tokyo’s recently established Institute for Future Initiatives, while continuing to serve as President of the Overseas Environmental Cooperation Centre, Japan.